Péter Major worked in the private sector for more than 20 years, including 16 years spent at Vodafone. The focus of his career so far has been improving the customer experience and opinion, except for the few years he worked on major technology and business transformation projects such as the Vodafone-UPC merger. He became Head of Student Services at Corvinus University of Budapest in January this year, and we talked to him about academic administration at prestigious American and British universities, why he is proud of his colleagues, why it is their duty to talk to students about their careers, furthermore, he told us when the MyCorvinus application will be available.
Student Services 2.0
“What I want to achieve is shifting the focus from the transaction of student affairs to the students themselves,” Péter Major begins the conversation when we asked him where he sees the operation of student services in five years.
They want to change the practice applied so far in many areas, in some cases with digitalisation, elsewhere with organisational development and simplification of processes, and these steps have one goal: to spend as little time and energy of the students on administrative matters as possible. “We are here to ensure that the students spend their university years as valuable as possible. And putting the sticker on your student ID does not represent value for a university student”.
More direct administration
One of the spectacular changes will be that in contrast to the current operation, students can now take care of their student affairs with the help of not only the academic clerks of their own field of studies. Hopefully over the next year, the epidemic will ease and the staff of the Study Department will be able to move into the renewed community space where students will be welcome all day. Here they want to establish a fast-paced, efficient operation where students can easily and quickly handle 80 percent of the administrative matters.
The example for this administrative system which is completely different from the Hungarian university practice was taken from Anglo-Saxon universities: “I have seen that the process is executed in the same manner at UCLA, MIT and at prestigious British universities. We aim to provide an experience that resembles a little like when you go into an Apple store and you feel like you are seen as a partner, they talk to you, understand your needs and provide effective solutions for that ”.
If a student contacts them with a question that requires more substantial expertise, then there will be a solution for that as well. If they are unable to resolve the matter on the spot, then the matter will be transferred to another administrator who will immediately consult with the student in person or make an appointment for the next day to discuss the matter to be resolved in detail.
All this would not work without a strong team of dedicated employees, and this was highlighted by Péter Major: “I am very proud of the team and I consider it a huge achievement that we have come so far in the past less than one year during the epidemic. The key is that we want to make changes step by step only, so colleagues also have time to adapt. ”
Students can already experience that the “Administration Online” platform will help them if they want to contact the Study Office. In addition to receiving information for administration and booking through the platform, each and every student can download their own student status certificate or credit recognition certificate.
Over time, I would like to expand the processes that can be done through the “Administration Online” platform, however, Péter emphasized that they are waiting for the students’ feedback in this regard: they should suggest what additional forms and processes they would like to see on the platform.
In a previous management briefing Péter had already mentioned that after the introduction of the platform 40 percent of the processes were solved without the intervention of an administrator. According to him, in the future this rate may increase even further, up to 60-70 percent. The reception of the Administration Online platform has been great so far: on a scale of 1 to 5, the average feedback given is around 4.5 and 4.7, which exceeds expectations.
The next development is the MyCorvinus application, the introduction of which is very close: everyone is expected to be able to download and try it by the end of November.
The future: consultation and career counseling
“So far 95 per cent of the time has been spent on handing the academic affairs of the students and only 5 percent have been devoted to counselling. We want to reverse this ratio so that in the future 20 percent of the time is enough for administration and 80 percent is devoted to the students’ academic progress and careers, ”says Péter Major about an area that can also make a significant difference in students’ lives.
They want regular conselling to be an integral part of every student’s university career. The exact details and process that all students will encounter is still being developed, however, Peter illustrated with a concrete example how such a counselling session would look like: “A student may start an economic analyst course with us at the instigation of his parents. Then a year will pass, and in the next consultation, because of his academic achievements, competencies, and interest, we will tell him that it is advisable to think about a career change because he could make better use of his skills as an economic IT specialist. It is not about making the decision instead of the student but we are merely pointing to the opportunity and helping our students make the best decisions.
” These conversations would be led by coach-type consultants who are able to work with people well and who have sufficient knowledge of the opportunities within the university training and are able to formulate specific directions as mentors, thus providing real help to students.
The program is currently being planned, if the processes are going well, then a pilot project with a small number of students could start in September 2021, where the students’ university life will be followed starting from the enrolment.